IEA deepens our democracy

BY: Abigail Bonsu

The last in the series of this year’s Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) debates for the presidential candidates of the political parties with representation in Parliament came off successfully at the Banquet Hall of the State House in Accra on Wednesday night.

As anticipated, supporters and sympathisers of the presidential candidates are all over the news media putting a spin on the performance of their candidates and their opponents. But that should be expected in a vibrant democracy and we hope we will all keep to the path of jaw-jaw instead of war-war.

Although some people have described the debate as drab and of no consequential effect on the outcome of the December 7 elections, the Daily Graphic applauds the event for one thing — deepening our democracy. As we have stated before, the essence of the debate is to consolidate multiparty democracy, promote issue-based elections in Ghana and provide a common platform for the presidential candidates to engage in a form of policy dialogue.

We dare say that even the average Ghanaian was able to diagnose the weaknesses in some of the policies and arguments of the candidates. However, we have not reached the stage where debates such as offered by the IEA could influence voters and the outcome of elections. But we shall certainly get there, sooner than later.

Indeed, it is also significant to applaud President John Mahama for his decision to participate in the debate as the first incumbent to do so in our 20-year democratic journey.

With 13 days to the elections, the Daily Graphic wishes that the presidential candidates, their supporters and activists will continue in this path of dialogue, instead of insults, physical assaults, harassment and intimidation to win political power.

The Daily Graphic salutes the IEA and its sponsors for the opportunity offered the presidential candidates to deepen Ghana’s democracy.

However, we believe the institute can do better in organising future events. It needs to accommodate all the political parties and the candidates contesting the presidential election and not limit the debates to only those with representation in Parliament.

If there are resource constraints, the Daily Graphic thinks the IEA could expand its sponsorship base to enable it to accommodate every presidential candidate. As it is now, we do not think it is fair to our political system and the candidates whose political parties do not have representation in Parliament.
We are certain that many Ghanaians would have wished to have the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) candidate, Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, on the same platform to jaw-jaw with the others. But as some have argued, if we think democracy is expensive, let us try dictatorship.

The Daily Graphic posits that no matter how expensive democracy is, it remains the best system of governance now, hence the need for us to harness every available opportunity to entrench it.

That is why the Graphic Communications Group Limited, in its small way, started a series of town hall meetings in four cities this year to facilitate the engagement of the parliamentary candidates with their constituents. 

The Daily Graphic also believes that the IEA must consider not only bringing the event to a much earlier time of the day but also starting it on schedule.

Also, the thematic areas considered on the debate platform are too many for any meaningful debate in which the candidates can challenge one another to substantiate their presentations.
Once again, we applaud the IEA for helping to deepen our democracy.